Sen. Mark Warner says Huawei "has been a threat for years"

Sen. Warner calls ZTE deal "a horrible decision"

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said Thursday that Senate Intelligence Committee members have known Chinese telecom giant Huawei "has been a threat for years" and the fact that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not disclose its relationship with the company during recent testimony "raises real concerns."

"I think that Facebook should've been aware of this potential security threat, should've not had this partnership," Warner told CBSN's Reena Ninan Thursday. "When we've got the unanimous opinion of the American intelligence community that Huawei, ZTE are security threats, we need to heed that advice." Warner also slammed the Trump administration's deal with ZTE, calling it "a horrible decision." He suggested the Trump administration should listen to the advice of the intelligence community and prevent further risks from such equipment.

Facebook admitted earlier this week it had signed data-sharing agreements with dozens of phone and mobile device manufacturers, including Huawei. It disclosed Huawei was among a number of companies that had such agreements — including Amazon, Apple, and Samsung — in "controlled" ways. Facebook claims user data was only ever stored on the device, and "not on Huawei's servers."

Huawei is considered by many in Congress to pose a national security threat. In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee advised regulators to block any of the company's mergers or acquisitions in the U.S.

After the backlash, Facebook has since ended its partnership with Huawei but still maintains partnerships with Chinese device makers Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL under the same "controlled" conditions. Warner also said they've asked for the same kind of response from Google and Twitter to see if they have partnerships with any Chinese telecom companies.

Warner also highlighted three areas for potential new regulation: increased transparency for sources of online content; privacy and the duty companies have to protect user data; and competition — that is, making it easier for people to move their data over to a new platform if they want to leave Facebook.

"I don't want to kneecap American companies because right behind them there are similar Chinese facsimiles," Warner told Ninan. "And these companies have even less controls on them."

Warner also said he wants to see Mark Zuckerberg, as well as the CEOs of Google and Twitter, to come to Congress to address the issues of identity validation, privacy, and competition.

"Work with us because if you leave it simply to Congress, we'll probably mess it up," he said.